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Thursday, 2 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 02 May 2013
China standoff: Army Chief briefs Cabinet panel on security
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, May 1
Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh presented a “factual status report” on Chinese incursion to the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the Prime Minister today. He suggested various options to the government on resolving the issue, including aggressive use of force. This reportedly includes options such as cutting off Chinese supply lines in the area.

Interdicting the Chinese supply line to the tents where its soldiers are presently camping will need surgical operation of great speed to occupy the ground.

China has a line-of-sight view of any possible ingress routes which the Indian troops may use to interdict the Chinese supply route from its base to the site where the tents are pitched.

Within the government, the opinion is to “constructively resolve the issue and contain the fallout locally”, sources confirmed tonight.

Army’s suggestion is that the tented position of the Chinese has to be made untenable.

The BJP has said the Chinese intrusion may turn out to be a “Kargil-like” issue. The party said India should deploy additional troops in the area if it felt the Chinese were enhancing their presence.

China’s claims that it did provoke border tension with India may be hollow as an armed patrol troop of the Chinese People Liberation Army conducted a full-scale reconnaissance in the disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control in northern Ladakh on April 10 - five days before pitching in their tents in the area. On April 25, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had claimed in Beijing: “I don’t agree that it is the Chinese side that has provoked confrontation between border troops.”

Meanwhile, a routine border personnel meeting was conducted at the Spanggur Gap, the designated routine meeting point in eastern Ladakh, this morning.
The options

The Army Chief spells out options available with the Army to counter Chinese incursion

These include deployment of additional troops for aggressive posturing and cutting off supply lines of Chinese troops

An Indian Army team headed by a Brigadier crossed over to the Chinese side of Chushul to hold the annual Border Personnel Meeting on Labour Day

China building road

The Indian Government has been informed of some UAV images captured over the past one week showing Chinese converting a dirt track into a metalled road near the scene of the standoff with India in northern Ladakh. The dirt track is being used by the Chinese to get supplies from a place 25 km away where a border defence regiment is stationed.
General’s shattered dream
Receiving wages of his own sins

General Pervez Musharraf, who had ruled Pakistan with an iron first for around nine years, is faced with the most challenging situation today. He lost power when he began to govern his country like the worst dictator in Pakistan’s history. It was good riddance for his country when he decided to stay outside Pakistan after the party he had indirectly floated failed to win as many National Assembly seats as could enable him to remain tied to the post of President. However, within four years he got sick of a life without power and decided to end his self-imposed exile and try his luck again for regaining what he had lost in the 2008 elections.

But his dream got shattered after his nomination papers were rejected from all three constituencies from where he chose to contest the May 11 elections. Now his fate has been permanently sealed by the Peshawar High Court which has barred him for life from contesting polls for any elected body, including the Pakistan National Assembly and the Senate. Of course, he can challenge the high court’s order in the Pakistan Supreme Court, but he cannot hope to get his wish fulfilled through the apex court because of the record of his relations with the higher judiciary during his rule.

The high court is justified in observing that the man who abrogated the constitution twice — first by usurping power through an army coup in 1999 and then again by promulgating an emergency in 2007 — cannot be allowed to enter public life by contesting elections. The judges also pointed out that the person who targeted the judiciary so blatantly was now seeking relief from the same institution. In their view, he must not be allowed to enter the precincts of any elected House to ensure that Pakistan’s interests remain safe. Did he not visualise such a scenario? He, perhaps, depended too much on the Pakistan Army Chief, Gen Ashfaque Kayani, his protégé at one time. Or, maybe, General Kayani, too, feels helpless under the circumstances when there is no love lost for the retired General in any section of society.
Army Chief meets PM with options for handling China incursion
Army chief Bikram Singh today met the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers and presented them with options for handling an incursion by China in Ladakh.

On the night of April 15, a platoon of Chinese soldiers crossed the de-factor border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and set up five camps on Indian territory in the Depsang Valley.

China has refused to withdraw.
Three flag meetings between local army commanders from both sides have not delivered a breakthrough.

The army chief reportedly suggested to the government that India's counter-measure can be cutting off routes to the five-tent remote camp set up by China which will effectively restrict their supplies.

The General suggested that Indian troops could cross the Chinese camp to patrol along the border, which would bring Indian soldiers very close to a bigger Chinese camp set up in Aksai Chin.

After China set up its five tents 19 kilometres deep into Indian territory, India set up its own camp just 500 meters away.

General Singh said that India, as another counter-measure, could add another temporary post in another area claimed by both sides.

The government has been counting on diplomatic negotiations to find a compromise, prompting severe criticism from the opposition and even key allies like Samajwadi Party chief and former Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

So far, Foreign Affairs Minister Samlan Khurshid has not cancelled a trip to Beijing for May 9. The Chinese premier Le Keqiang is expected to visit Delhi on May 20.
Despite Ladakh stand-off, India and China to hold joint military exercises in October
India and China are far from resolving a border deadlock in Ladakh, but the armies of the two countries are on schedule to hold joint military exercises this October in the Chengdu military region in China.

Sources tell NDTV that an Indian Army delegation that went to China last month even as the face-off in Ladakh was unfolding has finalised the details of the exercises. The exact dates, however, are yet to be finalised. A Chinese military delegation is expected to visit India in July when the dates for the exercises will be sealed.
Generally military exercises are only held between friendly countries, and given the recent border hostilities between India and China, this move might be viewed as a surprising one.

But, sources have told NDTV that the Indian government's decision to go ahead with the exercises is an attempt to keep the larger relationship with China isolated from the current impasse, which started when Chinese troops set up a post 19 km into Indian territory in the Depsang Valley on April 15. India responded by setting up its own post just 500 metres away.
Sources say that the China Study Group or CSG -- the highest policy making body in India on all issues related to China, headed by the National Security Advisor -- decided to cancel the army delegation's visit to send a strong message to China. But, after the army made a pitch that engagement with China must go on despite the stand-off at the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border, the visit was cleared.
"The impression then was that the face-off would end soon, and hence the visit was allowed," senior officials of the Defence Ministry told NDTV. However, that optimism was soon dashed as China dug in and three successive flag meetings between the two sides have failed to resolve the issue.

China is said to have suggested at the third flag meeting that the two armies increase the distance between the temporary camps that they have set up. India is insisting on a complete withdrawal by the Chinese troops and a return to "status quo".

The proposed exercises between the two sides will focus on anti-terror operations.

The first India- China joint military exercises was held in 2007 in China's Kunmming military region. A second one was held in Belgaum in India in 2008.
India-China standoff: Army Chief briefs PM, other senior ministers
New Delhi:  Army Chief General Bikram Singh today briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security on the Chinese incursion in Ladakh that has caused tension at the border between the two neighbours since April 15, when a Chinese platoon pitched tents about 19 km inside Indian territory. He carried into the meeting, held at the 7 Race Course Road residence of the Prime Minister, news that a third round of talks between the two sides yesterday saw no headway.
    At the third flag meeting between army commanders from both countries yesterday, China reportedly suggested that the two armies increase the distance between the temporary camps that they have set up in the Depsang Valley near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border.

    India rejected this offer, saying that nothing short of complete withdrawal of the Chinese troops from Indian territory will do.

    The Chinese were told that till they withdraw, India will not move its own camp that it set up just 500 metres away where the Chinese troops have pitched their tents.

    But in China's offer, India sees the first signs of willingness to compromise and hopes this could eventually lead to a return to the "status quo" before the incursion. Beijing has so far insisted that it has not violated the border.

    At yesterday's meeting, China also reportedly reiterated its demand that India dismantle infrastructure that it has set up in eastern Ladakh and stop new construction. India has refused saying this is its territory.

    Today is May Day and Indian Army jawans are likely to cross over into Chinese territory at the Spanggur gap near Chushul to participate in Labour Day celebrations. This is a tradition at the border on May 1. Chushul is about 100 km away from the spot in Ladakh where the Chinese troops have camped.

    New Delhi is prepared, say sources, for the long haul but is not considering the military response that political leaders like Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav have suggested. Mr Yadav had claimed in Parliament that the Indian Army is ready to respond but is being held back by the UPA government.

    External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told NDTV yesterday, "Mr Mulayam Singh being a (former) Defence Minister would know that it is the local commanders who are handling the issue at the flag meetings. If there is a need for higher diplomacy we will be ready for it."

    Mr Khurshid has countered the opposition's accusation that the government's response to China has been "weak" and that it is "submitting to a bully" by saying, "We are engaged in the mechanism that we have put in place to ensure that border incidents are resolved amicably. We would not like to have unnecessary issues put into it. We have to ensure that our perception of the LAC is preserved and any violation of it is set right."

    The SP and other political parties have also slammed the government for going ahead with Mr Khurshid's scheduled visit to Beijing on May 9 despite the border stand-off. Mr Khurshid confirmed in his interview to NDTV yesterday that those plans are on track.
Chinese Troops 20 Kilometers Across Disputed Border: India
New Delhi on Friday said Chinese soldiers have advanced nearly 12 miles (20 kilometers) into Indian-claimed territory after intruding across the disputed border earlier this month, a report said.

Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and other military officials presented a report on the incursion to a parliamentary watchdog, the Press Trust of India reported, marking a renewal of tensions between the Asian neighbours.

Sharma also told MPs attending the meeting that India has deployed troops in the contested region to "keep a close watch on the border,” it quoted unnamed sources as saying.

India and China have an unresolved boundary dispute, and relations are often prickly and marked by mutual suspicion — a legacy of a brief border war in 1962.

A senior defence ministry official confirmed the meeting took place and that Sharma briefed MPs on the alleged Chinese advance but he did not elaborate.

“The officials told the committee that Indian army patrols reported on April 16 the presence of Chinese People's Liberation Army pitching tents 19 kilometers inside the LAC [Line of Actual Control],” PTI quoted a source as saying.

The LAC is the de facto border that runs across the Himalayas.

The meeting came a day after Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid announced he would head for China on May 8, saying both countries had a mutual interest in not allowing the dispute to "destroy" long-term progress in ties.

A foreign ministry official also confirmed reports that the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang would travel to New Delhi India late next month, without giving an exact date.

Lower-level talks have so far failed to break the impasse in the dispute in the western part of India-administered Kashmir's Ladakh region.

According to officials in New Delhi, a platoon of Chinese troops set up a camp inside Indian territory on April 15.

India has since called on the Chinese soldiers to withdraw, but several meetings between local army commanders and diplomats from both sides have failed to resolve the stand-off.

China has denied any wrongdoing.

In 1962, China gave India a bloody nose in the war fought in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Small incursions are not uncommon across the LAC but it is rare for either country to set up camps in disputed territory.

In recent years, the countries have increased their military presence on each side of the border and hold frequent meetings to diffuse tensions.

Despite the border tensions, trade between the Asian giants has soared in recent years.
Indian army to give women high-profile posts
The Indian army plans for the first time to appoint female officers to high-profile positions assisting military commanders stationed in the field, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

Army Chief Bikram Singh told the newspaper he had issued orders for women to be appointed to the post of aide-de-camp or ADC — officers who usually act as personal assistants to high-ranking military officials.

“Women officers are one of the most worthy segments of our human capabilities and their aspirations need to be addressed so they remain motivated,” Singh was quoted as saying, adding that he would appoint two female ADCs in the coming months.

India has one of the largest armies in the world and around 2.5 percent of its one million personnel are women, most of them administrators, intelligence officers, doctors or dentists.

Unlike countries such as the United States and Israel, India does not allow female officers to be assigned combat duties.

The Hindustan Times report said Singh approved the appointment of women officers as ADCs in response to a study that showed women wanted to be given combat roles, a move army officials say is unlikely in the immediate future.
200 terrorists planning to cross over to India: Army
More than 200 terrorists are planning to cross over to Jammu & Kashmir from across the border but elaborate efforts have been taken to foil any infiltration attempts made by them, the Indian Army has said.

“Almost 200 militants are waiting just across the LoC to cross over to this side,” General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corps, Lt Gen D S Hooda, said. Some 20-30 terrorists training camps are located close to the LoC but elaborate measures are already in place to foil any infiltration attempt, he said.

“There is a high-level of alertness along the LoC in the wake of threat of infiltration,” Lt Gen Hooda told reporters here. Asked about reports on the presence of Chinese Army in PoK, he said “there is development work going on the other side. We do not have any information that there are people from the Chinese Army there”.

On the impact of upcoming General Elections in Pakistan on the Kashmir situation, the Army officer said, “We do not know what is going to happen, what type of dispensation is going to come? It is too early to say. But, from our side we have kept a high-level of alertness.”

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